What is your favorite song? Which style does it have? Is it hip-hop, pop, R’n’B or, maybe, soul? What exactly is hooking you on this track? Maybe, there is some vocal effect that you are really mesmerized by? They sound really good, don’t they? In order to record these vocals, studios acquire the best gear and best microphones for vocalists. It is a known fact, that the right microphone is one of the essential parts of the vocalist’s success. It is also important to know which mic exactly will fit your style. For instance, soul vocalists can use dynamic vintage microphones while a rapper can use a condenser microphone with extra sensitivity and noise reduction.
But what about those who only start their rocky way up to the vocal top? Even more, there are a lot of great vocalists who, however, cannot afford the studio-quality mic for recordings. But it doesn’t mean that if you’re in the budget, then you should forget about getting a good microphone, right?
In fact, the self-made-vocalists industry is booming today and the market, as a result, is able to provide us with a much wider choice of recording tools than even ten years ago. The internet era made us believe that you don’t need producers and managers anymore to achieve success and make cool professional and captivating recordings. Nowadays there is a real chance to choose from quite affordable microphones which still sound great to the big audience. So why wait for the better times or more money if there are so many great deals even right now? Choose one and start practice!
Shure PGA58-XLR Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone
Already for a long time, a dynamic vocal microphone by Shure has been keeping its positions as one of the best microphones for vocalists. And despite that fact it is still very affordable. For a vocalist, this mic will be a real catch since it includes all the characteristics needed, enhancing the power of voice and making it more lively and colorful.
The item has a tailored microphone cartridge design for natural clarity in the frequency range of vocal performance. No smashy or crunchy sounds as it may happen with budget gear. It has a cardioid polar pattern, and that’s why the ultimate sound is so clear and full – the mic picks up only the sounds going from the required source along with rejecting all the unwanted noise.
Frequently it can happen that the manufacturer sacrifices the design materials and quality in order to maintain the technical characteristics, but this is not the case. Well, the technical aspects are also lit, but the materials used in the mic are metal and performed in the industrial modern style and grille for unobtrusive visual presence.
There is only one button on this microphone – logically it is switch on/off. The microphone has a stand adapter for mounting to a microphone stand. So if you want, for example, to fix a mic during the singing and keep your hands free, you can use a stand mount. And unlike in the case with the studio or retro microphones, for those who like to play with the microphone during the performance – you got a chance to hold it in your hand.
It may be useful also in the sense, that no matter how hard you try and how good the microphone is – you will still have to be careful with too loud or too quiet sounds. If you are still standing in the same position during singing (especially recording something in the studio) and you sing very loud or very quiet sounds, then, in first case, the quality of the record is going to be distorted by the scratch and in the second case you risk to remain silent at all. Usually, vocalists have to get further or closer to the microphone depending on the volume of the sound they produce. Here you don’t need to step anywhere – you just move the mic away from you when it is needed and get it closer as well.
Tailored for performers of every level, Shure offers a complete family of wired microphones to meet any audio need. With the PG ALTA Microphone family, Shure continues its 90-year tradition of manufacturing audio products of the highest quality and construction. This item has a frequency response of 50 to 16,000 Hz and the sensitivity of -55 dBV/Pa (1.79 mV). If you browse a little bit on the web to make research – you will notice that many vocalists choose this mic.
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AKG Pro Audio P420, Sliver Blue
This is going to be, probably, the winner of the category of best vocal microphones under $200. To start with, this brand is also famous and it is focused on the manufacturing of the audio gear only, what increases the chances that at the outcome you will get a tool of a higher quality of its competitors which focus on various types of product (though it doesn’t mean they create bad products).
Regarding the reviews, it is possible to come to the conclusion that the mic has an excellent reputation. Almost all the users are happy with the result it brings, especially for its cost. However, the main virtue of this mic is that it is able to toggle between various polar patterns. Just like the Blue Yeti microphone, it offers to switch between different modes, such as cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure 8 patterns.
So everything depends on the mode you need. It gives you a possibility to experiment with the recordings you make and also record duets and background vocals (in the omnidirectional mode). You can also experiment with different microphone positions and setups. For example, it is possible to record a song lying on the floor.
As it offers a max SPL of 155dB, you can count on the P420 to give you warm and natural sounding recordings, no matter what the style of singing or genre in question may be. What is more, it is easily connected to the PC and doesn’t require the installation of any additional drivers.
MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
If prices for the products listed above are still too expensive for you then this item will definitely make you happy. It is known as one of the best options on the market. The MXL 770 condenser microphone continues to amaze recording artists all over the world with its incredible price/performance ratio. It is great for making YouTube covers and just to record your voice in the home studio.
The microphone provides a full, deep sound with fat bass and upfront high-end. The MXL 770 even uses a high-quality FET preamp with balanced output for a wide dynamic range. Both experienced musicians and beginners will find it great and helpful. The patented MXL 770 Condenser Mic is wired with Mogami for exceptional sound quality.
It is a pressure gradient condenser microphone (what gives the depth to the sound), and a 6-micron gold-sputtered diaphragm. Its frequency range is 30Hz-20kHz, sensitivity is 15mV/Pa, output impedance is 150 ohms. The microphone can be used for multiple purposes: from singing for YouTube cover videos to recording podcasts, since it is both good at transmitting deep and full sound.
For the instrument recording, it is also a great tool. The mic has low-frequency roll-off to reduce unwanted rumble. Lastly, the item will be looking good on any video thanks to its beautiful and stylish design. Since it is a condenser microphone, you can expect that it will be recording your voice in the smallest details. What is more, it is versatile for recording vocals in various genres, starting from Blues and ending up with Rap.
It works really good at the high-tones and it makes it a perfect mic for recording female vocals, as it conveys the high pitched notes in a very natural fashion. For low frequencies, it is still good, however, strong experiments with screaming or growling are not recommended. And sometimes, some feedback occurs. Depending on the settings of your equalizer, it can bring a really cool warm sound for the R’n’B recordings.
The build quality of this model is surprisingly good. An all-metal construction not only gives it a nice, heavy feel, but it seems that it can take quite a punch as well. If you take care of it, it will serve you a long qualitative time. For a mic that costs less than $100, it is really decent.
Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
Another great item that is widely used in different industries for providing excellent sound. Maybe, you’ve noticed it before. If not, meet the Shure Sm57-LC which makes you realize that a good quality not necessarily costs thousands of dollars.
In fact, you’ll probably find it in more studios than any other mic. The unidirectional dynamic SM57 has set the industry standard by defining the way instruments should sound. Which is why it’s used by professional musicians and famous recordings artists. Its warm, clean sound along with its carefully contoured presence rise makes it ideal for a wide range of instrument miking applications, particularly guitar amplifiers and drums. The SM57 features a uniform cardioid pick-up pattern that isolates the main sound source and minimizes background noise.
For those who prefer the items with a history, the company has been on the market since 1965. The goal of it is to make a quality product that will last a long time. The SM57 was put through Shure’s famous drop test, in which the microphone was dropped ten times from a height of ten feet with no loss in input quality. For those who don’t like to play too careful with all this recording gear it is really a catch. The SM57 uses a cardioid pickup pattern and it focuses on only one source of sound during the recording, rejecting any external noises.
It can be also extremely useful if you are a vocalist giving a lot of live performances – you can take this item anywhere with you not worrying about the feedback. It is capable of handling the noise without distortion. It can even record such high-volume instruments, like drums and the quality remains excellent.
The SM57 can even handle close up recording on half-stack amps that are painfully loud for human ears. This microphone will help you to bring the feel of a live performance to your recordings for a better representation of your music. For the studio recordings, it is also a good option, though not the very best one.
Another curious feature here is that the mic will be appreciated by those musicians who prefer the natural raw voice without autotune. Vocal microphones like the SM58 have their frequency dialed into a certain range that is common in most singers, enhancing that microphone’s pickup of the human voice. The SM57 doesn’t have this specific tuning, so it can handle frequencies on a much wider scale, with a response from 40Hz to 15KHz. This mic has an option of not switching on this tuning and that particularly gives that “raw” effect.
One more curious fact – you could see that presidents prefer to use the microphone of this brand for their speeches. Find one of the Obama speech videos – you will see that he’s using the Shure mic. In general, with this mic you get a clear, crisp sound; maybe just the lower frequencies could sound better.
Blue Yeti USB Microphone
This list wouldn’t be complete if there wouldn’t be a legendary Blue Yeti microphone. First of all, this microphone is made not only to record vocals but also for YouTube videos, live streams, gaming broadcasts and so on. Some people may argue that this item not really suitable for a list like this since initially it wasn’t created for vocalists. But it does have a number of features that would make it great for vocalists as well.
First of all, it is affordable. With the price/quality interrelation, it is a really beneficial investment for any musician. What is more, people don’t consider it’s vocal since the mic has an on-desk stand which actually, can be easily replaced with a stand mount.
This is a USB microphone and that what also makes people argue about its vocal nature. Well, in this case, it only means that it is easy to connect this mic to your PC without extra hassle. While you would normally use an XLR connection, having this option for connectivity makes things much simpler. Besides the USB cable, it hosts a 3.5mm headphone jack for on-the-fly monitoring.
Blue Yeti is also famous for its various modes that you can switch between. You can easily and quickly choose from cardioid, bidirectional, or omnidirectional polar patterns. Maybe it doesn’t include any extra features for recording vocals, but still, it gives you a chance to record no the vocals only. For example, for bloggers, who are singers at the same time it is a real bargain.
Featuring high sensitivity and great noise cancellation, depending on the polar pattern you’ve chosen, the Yeti performs amazingly well. The whole frequency range sounds natural, without any unnecessary boosts at any part. The issue that you might be having with this microphone it that its contol buttons are placed right on the microphone and can be tricky to control.
The vocals are best recorded at the cardioid mode. In this case, the sounds are captured directly from the source with the suppression of external noises. It delivers a rich, full-bodied sound. When you are recording a loud source, simply adjust the microphone’s sensitivity with the gain control. And if you suddenly decided to stop the recording just press the mute button. The frequency response here is 20Hz – 20kHz, max SPL is 120dB (THD: 0.5% 1kHz). It is a plug-and-play type of the microphone who like switching between the modes and activities and don’t like all the hassle with the mic installation and setting process.
On the market of affordable but qualitative and durable microphones, this product by Audio-Technica is also a statement. It is a condenser microphone which you can fix on a stand mount and turn your room into a mini recording studio. The microphone can serve various purposes, including vocal recording. Moreover, this company has been one of the market leaders for a long time now, which gives it extra credits.
First of all, for a budget item, the microphone is designed pretty decently – it is made of metal which gives you a feeling like you’re owning a true professional studio microphone. The frequency range is nothing special, but it offers a max SPL of 148dB, as well as a -10dB pad. It means you can experiment with your voice without fearing that it distorts the quality.
The cardioid polar pattern keeps you safe from any external noises on the record and picks up the sound from only one direct source. The level of detail, represented by this mic can be compared to the professional gear however, this one has a much lower price.
For a rich, detailer recording a microphone by audio-Technica is definitely a choice. The only drawback here is that the pop filter of it doesn’t match the level of the mic itself. However, even with the mediocre quality filter, the microphone provides truly natural and raw sound. It is equipped with a switchable 80 Hz high-pass filter and 10 dB pad.
This one has a frequency response of 20-20,000 Hz, the dynamic range of 136 dB, 1 kHz at Max SPL, and 11-52V DC, 3.8 mA typical phantom power. There is undoubtedly a great competition on the market today but still, without the lower price, it is really hard to win. But this mic seems to win the challenge.
Rode NT-USB Versatile Studio-Quality USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone
You could probably see other items of this brand presented in our lists. They really have some interesting options, including budget ones. Like this USB microphone which is versatile to be used for various purposes, including elaborate vocals.
In general, this mic is cool to make any kind of mainstream recordings. It is also compatible with many devices and of course your PC. It gives you a chance to use it together with popular recording apps and always stay in the hype. The body features a zero-latency 3.5mm headphone jack to monitor microphone input. The microphone also comes together with a filter which is the necessity for each vocalist if they want to avoid plausive sounds and other distracting noises.
The positioning of the filter is made in such a way, that the distance is not too short and not too far (as it should be in the professional gear). It also has a stand mount with 3/8″ thread, desktop tripod stand, and a pouch for storage. What is noticeable that the product doesn’t give a feeling of a budget mic (because even if you’re buying one, no one really likes to be reminded about that). It feels solid and heavy, just like a studio microphone.
With such a frequency range you don’t really expect much from the item, but this particular one will surprise you for sure. The ultimate recording sounds balanced and clear, the sound quality is really decent. It’s definitely a great choice for anyone looking for a flat yet very sensitive microphone.
This mic also gives you a chance to experiment with the equalizer settings and play with the sound without the loss of the quality. What is more, you can layer different effects right during the recording process. Not only vocals sound great at the output but also music instruments are also well-captivated without the damage for sound impression. So for those who like to record acoustic covers, this might be a real deal.
For the lower-pitched vocals, it doesn’t really work well, but you can always try to adjust the equalizer settings. And also the kind of sound it gives may not be appreciated by everyone and some people may find it too flat. For example, if you are a jazz or soul vocalist, this mic will barely express the whole depth of your voice. But still, it is easy in usage which is a considerable plus in our time. It is compatible with Windows and iOS and even with an iPad. The frequency range is 20Hz – 20kHz, the maximum SPL is 110dB SPL.
FAQ for buyers of vocal microphones under $200
Do all the microphones come in a package with a stand mount?
By far not every microphone comes in a package with a stand mount and even a pop filter so before buying pay attention what does the set include. This also might affect the price.
If a microphone is a type on-desk microphone, can I hang it on the stand mount?
In most cases yes, if there is a possibility to unscrew it from the original stand and then fix it to another hold.
What should I do if the mic is not compatible with my PC?
First of all, check if there is any software that allows you to plug in the mic to your PC. Also, make the same research for the drivers. If nothing works, then, unfortunately, you either need an audio system with an amplifier or another PC.
What is the quality of the 3.5 mm output? Does it match that of USB?
That output is for your monitor/headphones. It is not made for the output of the mic into the computer. USB is the correct output.
What to do, if every time I sing too loud I can hear the sound distortion on a record after?
Try to set up the equalizer and the general settings of the microphone. Decrease the volume of input. Remove all the possible devices that can cause distortion away from the microphone. If the noise is still there, then it is a bad-quality microphone.
How do the control knobs “feel” on this mic? Are they solid, or do they tend to “slip” around at the slightest touch?
Everything depends on the design. For example, with Blue Yeti they are placed wisely and comfortably so you really need to push the button to make an action. It is usually hard to predict when you are buying a microphone on the website, so try to read others’ reviews or contact the seller directly.
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